This Lotus (Toronto) is not the same as Lotus Canada that placed 7th at WUCC, although they do have 11 members of the Lotus Canada squad. Due to WUCC, this group of Lotus players has not played together as a team this year, but have all played with one another in the past.
Anne Mercier and Kate Jardine lead the offence, along with Captain Kristin Laurin. Hadiya Rodrique, now healthy after missing most of the gold medal game in 2009 with a sprained ankle, and Sarah Kidd anchor the defence.
Adding Anne from Stella and having a healthy Hadiya will be huge boosts for Lotus this year, and should overcome whatever lack of cohesion the team may have, in relation to their opponents.
Stella (Ottawa) also has some Lotus Canada member on their squad, 4 to be exact (Kate Cavallaro, Kathryn Pohran, Sandra Shaddick and Shannon Becker). Looking to add a 5th gold medal to their total, Stella has solid results this year, finishing 3rd at TUF, going 1-6 at the Boston Invite (Elite division), placing 3rd at Ontario Regionals and winning No Borders.
Losing Anne Mercier to friend/foe Lotus is a large hurdle to overcome; I would imagine the Lotus/Stella matchup at 10:15 on day one will be quite intense, and one to keep an eye on, should you be on a bye during that time.
Fusion (Winnipeg) formed in 2008 as a means to help promote Women’s Ultimate, and have risen through the Canadian ranks quickly, seeded 5th for this year’s CUC.
Fusion, as was Lotus and Stella, was well represented on the international stage this summer, with 2 players on the Team Canada U20 silver medal winning team (Olana Wach and Nicole Vidal) as well as 3 members of Chaos (Alexa Kovacs, Carrie Dunford and Leah Parker), who finished 12th in the Mixed division at WUCC.
Fusion was able to fly out to Ottawa for No Borders, and in a fairly strong field that featured Stella and the Canadian U20 team, finished 3rd, giving Fusion a lot of momentum heading into CUC.
Lily (Toronto) is the Lotus ‘B’ team, which started in 2006, and returned after a 1 year hiatus in 2008. It took them 2 seasons to get back to Nationals, and with back-to-back appearances this year, they hope they have shown they are not going away again any time soon.
While other teams have been fractured due to all the international events this summer, Lily has been quietly plugging away, improving during tournaments. With a 4th place finish at No Surf (Cleveland), 5th at JazzFest (Montreal), 5th at No Borders and 3rd at Motown Throwdown, Lily is quite confident they can achieve their goal of a top 6 finish this season.
Salty (Halifax) finished 7th at the Boston Invite (Women’s division), 8th at JazzFest and 7th at No Borders, while Mystik (Montreal), has a 7th place finish at the White Mountain Open (Hanover, NH), 6th at the Boston Invite, 4th at JazzFest and 10th at No Borders.
2 teams with similar results thus far this season, also have similar goals of reaching the quarterfinals on Saturday. There’s a good chance their pool play matchup at 10:15 on opening day will go a long way in determining who winds up in the pre-quarters.
I think it would be a monumental upset if Lotus, Stella and Fusion were not the 3 teams who advance straight to the quarterfinals from pool play, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Fusion leapfrogs Lotus or Stella.
Storm (Montreal), unlike Lotus, has every member of their WUCC roster with them at CUC, and with a 13th place finish at WUCC under their belts, along with 2nd place finishes at TUF and the White Mountain Open, appear poised to get past both Lotus and Stella and bring home the gold.
Storm has revamped their offence, with players less locked into set positions on the field, giving their opponents a more dynamic look and making their offence more difficult to defend.
As usual, Genevieve Dufresne and Caroline Cadotte lead the offence, but Helena Skrotzky-Boisvert, new to women’s Ultimate, may be the x-factor in Storm’s results this week.
Pretty Pink Flowers, a.k.a. PPF (Waterloo) formed in 2008 as more of a pickup team, but have taken this season more serious than years past.
Their roster has been bolstered with additions from last year’s Liquid roster (Ashley Snow, Brae-Anne McArthur, Neenah Navasero, Stephanie Wong and Mandy Matthews), as well as young dynamic players such as Luna Andrade and Courtney Benvenuti.
PPF has had some strong results this year, winning JazzFest, as well as Ontario Regionals (Lotus was awarded top seed in abstention), and 2nd place finishes at Motown Throwdown (Hartland, MI) and at MayDay (Waterloo) – in the mixed division!
Many of the new additions are handlers, which allow many of last year’s handlers to move back to cutting, their natural positions. However, the player to watch at the cutter position is 16 year old Luna Andrade, of London, Ontario, by way of Colombia. Luna may be the most athletically gifted female in this tournament, with the ability to pull down jump ball after jump ball just as easily as break your ankles on a nasty in-cut. Despite her age, appearing on the big stage at CUC won’t faze her, as she’s already had big game experience playing at the Emerald City Classic and with Colombia’s national women’s team – at the tender age of 14.
Wild Rose (Calgary) was formed last year after many players from the previous Calgary women’s team retired following the Calgary CUC in 2008.
This is a developmental year for Wild Rose, who is looking for a quarterfinal appearance to help grow the team and carry momentum into the 2011 season.
QUB (Quebec City) received a last minute bid to WUCC, and turned in a 30th place finish. They are hoping that experience, combined with strong tournament results (4th place at No Borders, 3rd place at the White Mountain Open) can propel them to a top 6 finish at CUC.
Exo (Sherbrooke) is a brand new women’s team, having pulled together ladies from 3 different mixed teams. They have had a solid inaugural season, with a 3rd place finish at JazzFest and 9th at No Borders.
Jessica Circe and Sandra Williams lead the offence and defence, respectively, while the team has high hopes for Shelley Tran to make some great strides this week.
Scarlett (Ottawa) is the Stella developmental team, in its 6th season. One of Scarlett’s top recruits is 6 foot Brianna Jarvis, who uses her height to full advantage. At the other end of the spectrum is Lauren Murphy who is known for 2 things: the ability to cut on a dime, and some very loud, and high-pitched, noises that emanate from her while she plays.
Scarlett has had some respectable finishes, 10th at JazzFest and 13th at No Borders, and they hope that with 3 pickups from Toronto’s Feisty (Amber Pollet, Kylee Letourneau and Meghan Ho), they can maintain their seed at Nationals.
Storm and PPF are locks for the quarterfinals, and, despite a lower seeding, I would think QUB would have the inside track on the 3rd quarterfinal spot out of this pool. The rest of the pool is up in the air, as Wild Rose, Exo and Scarlett could finish in any order in the bottom half of this pool.
I think the women’s championship bracket is going to be quite close, and hopefully the gold medal game can live up to last year’s double game point spectacle.
I believe we are looking at a Lotus-PPF final, where the absence of captain Darcy Drummond (major knee injury suffered at 2009 Ontario Regionals) will leave PPF just a little short in 2010, but making PPF a major player in 2011. I expect to see Storm and Fusion to round out the semi finals, with Stella, QUB, Lily and Exo in the quarterfinals.